“The happy birds—I envied them. I wished for wings like them, that I might cleave the air to where my birdlings waited vainly for their father's coming, in the cooler region of the North.”
This quote is from 12 Years a Slave, the story of Solomon who was born free and later forced into slavery. Reading these lines helped inspire this tribute to a woman name Anarcha, an enslaved woman who was experimented on by Dr. Sims, “The Father of Gynecology”. The statues honoring him overshadow harrowing circumstances of his medical advancements, including 30 surgeries performed on Anarcha without anesthesia. You can read more about her story here.
Dr. Sims ultimately helped women suffering from rectovaginal fistulas, but little is known about the many enslaved women he practiced on in the process. These women were examined in their most vulnerable states by men who believed they couldn’t feel pain, emotional or physical. So here is to Anarcha, if spirits exist, I hope peace is now within her reach. She holds the Wood Dove, a dove species native to Africa.
This piece is dedicated to the National Women’s Health Network.